May 5, 2012

Windows 8 Preview: A Scientific Analysis




I downloaded the Windows 8 Consumer Preview onto my Netbook. I couldn't wait, it sounded so awesome. 

And it's okay, I guess.

Here's what I expected: All my documents, games, etc. would be smartly imported into a slick, new, super-intuitive interface. Screen shots like the one below gave me a mistaken impression.

Kewl! My PC will be like an iPad!

Here's what I didn't realize: there's still a regular old desktop. The Metro interface (above) sort of replaces the Start Menu. It feels like my PC has a split personality. Actually it feels like they got halfway through some great ideas and said Fuck It! Good enough. We'll finish up in Windows 9.

My Windows 8 desktop:


It's so innovative, so slick, so... exactly the same.

They're not done with Windows 8 yet. They disclaim when you download the preview that the actual release may be significantly different. I hope so, because my Control Panel doesn't look anything like this:

Promotional image of Control Panel.

My Control Panel looks, just, regular.

There is plenty of noteworthy new functionality available with Windows 8, but I'm just writing about my initial impression.

Windows had a long way to go to catch up with everyone else. In that sense, I guess, I'm impressed. But they just copied everything everyone else has been doing for years ("Ooh! We need an app store!").

With the recent death of Steve Jobs leaving Apple's future slightly uncertain, Microsoft had a big chance here to take back some market share. Instead they built a great big yawn.

I'll just keep switching back and forth between my PC and my iPad because they both have things they do well.       -Kim


April 30, 2012

Exclusive Recipe: Easy Rainbow Bonbons


This is the second installment in my series of original recipes by Cordon Bleu Chef James Morgan. View the first recipe here. Enjoy! -Kim



Chef Morgan: These simple-to-make treats are my colorful versions of the Brazilian Brigadeiro. They are very popular at birthday parties.

Time: 30 minutes of active preparation

Number of bonbons: About 16

Ingredients:
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • Rainbow sprinkles
Instructions:
  1. Spray a plate with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the milk, cocoa, and butter in a nonstick sauce pan.
  3. Stir constantly over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture thickens (becomes like soft fudge). To tell if it’s ready, when you tilt the pan, the mixture will fall easily away from the side of the pan.
  4. Pour the mixture onto the sprayed plate. Allow to cool completely to room temperature. It should be taffy-like after cooling.
  5. Pour a nice pile of the sprinkles into a bowl. 
  6. Lightly moisten the palms of your hands (to keep the candy from sticking to them).
  7. Place a tablespoon of the fudge into the palm of your hand.
  8. Roll it into a ball between the palms of your hands.
  9. Roll the candy ball in the sprinkles.
  10. Put the resulting bonbon onto a clean plate.
  11. Repeat until all the fudge is used up. Chill the candies to set their shape.
Biography

Chef James Morgan is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy. He has appeared on the TV programs Bobby Flay’s Food Nation, MasterChef USA, and Taste of Louisiana. 

Chef Morgan has served as chef at several restaurants, including: The Pointe Tapatio, Phoenix, Arizona; White Oak Plantation, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and LaFitte’s Landing, Donaldsonville, Louisiana.

He is the author of the textbook Culinary Creation: An Introduction to Foodservice and World Cuisine, available at Amazon.com. Spanish version also available.

April 21, 2012

Men's Rights Movement


http://www.nobetterforum.blogspot.com/2012/04/mens-rights-movement.html

The men's rights activists on Reddit don't want to talk to me. I made the mistake of identifying myself as a "feminist" when I first started posting and it's gone downhill from there. For some bizarre reason they seem to think feminists are a single organized group of man-hating psychos.

All feminists

In my ignorance I was going by the Merriam Webster definition:
The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
Forgive me if I sound bitter, but I wasn't exactly welcomed into the fold. In fact I was eventually told:
"We don't want you, we don't need you, fuck off."
Well, sir, I happen to be raising a man and I care a lot more about him than I do about you. If our society promotes injustice against men it will affect him so, with all due respect, you fuck off.

The men's rights movement, like any other group, is filled with humans. Some are assholes, some aren't, and even some of the assholes have valid points.

My favorite comment sums up many of the men's rights issues beautifully:

"We are vulnerable because we are expected to be invulnerable."
Wow.

Here are a few points I can sink my teeth into.

Nobody cares about domestic violence against men. 


Women (and gay men) can be abusive, too, but society doesn't provide any protection for men in dangerous relationships.

Consider the case of Katherine Knight, the Australian murderer who carved up her partner with her own professional butcher knives, then cooked him into steaks. 

Prior to becoming dinner the victim contacted Katherine's ex-husband in terror and attempted to learn how he escaped the marriage. On the day of his murder the victim told co-workers that she was going to kill him, but he had to return home for the sake of his children.

Men have nowhere to hide when they are victims of abuse.

We assume men are always receptive to sexual advances. 

I did it myself in this post.
"Let's face it, the best possible outcome of every conversation for a man is a blow job."
I apologize.

I won't go into detail about the implications of unwanted sexual advances because they are the same for men as they are for women.

Men are consistently screwed when it comes to child custody. 


I'll be honest, as a mom I hate this one. I know a woman who had custody taken away from her by a judge who wanted to win one for Team Dad. She's a great mom and there was no good reason for the kids to be removed from her custody.

Think about this, though: that happens to dads constantly. Dads don't get custody unless mom is dead or a junkie (usually). What happened to my friend wasn't fair, but what happens to dads isn't fair either. Instead of the joy of parenting, dads are saddled with the enormous financial burden of child support.

We need a better system. On the topic of dads...

Dads aren't considered real parents.

I've already written about this. It's my top post of all time (look at the sidebar). My article was published at The Good Men Project. The subject obviously resonates with many people.

Women are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. 

If we claim to want equality we need to behave as equals. Here's a great illustration of the problem (click to enlarge):


I don't agree with everything they have to say, but the Men's Rights Movement has validity and deserves respect. 

By the way, a person who seeks equality for everyone is called an egalitarian. I guess that's how I should have introduced myself.   -Kim (an egalitarian)


http://www.nobetterforum.blogspot.com/2012/04/mens-rights-movement.html

Additional reading:
What We Stand For
MensActivism.org

Wikipedia Men's Rights

April 13, 2012

The Obesity Boogeyman


http://nobetterforum.blogspot.com/2012/04/obesity-boogeyman.html

Some New York parents want to ban ice cream trucks near parks where children play.
"Mom Sarah Schenck shared with the Post: 'Nobody wants to be a crank, but one in three kids are going to be obese or diabetic by high school,' she said. 'When my kids see other kids get ice cream, they just start begging me. I just don’t think these are the fights we should be having.'"
Have these people never read a parenting book? (Parenting With Love & Logic, my personal fave).

Very simple solution:
"I WANT ICE CREAM! ROGER HAS ICE CREAM! IT'S NOT FAIR!"
"Roger's mommy is in charge of Roger and it's none of your business. You had a lollipop at the bank today and I think that's enough sugar. I've got some snacks in my purse for you if you'd like."
"NOOOOO I WANT ICE CREAM WAH!" (My daughter actually says the word "Wah").
"You have three choices: You may go play, you may have a snack, or we can go home. Which would you like to do?"
The ice cream seller is not a drug dealer. Obesity is not a ravenous child-eating demon poised to devour your daughter the moment you relent.

Children must be exposed to temptation in order to understand the benefits to healthy eating choices. They must be taught the difference between "treats" and just pigging out on junk all the time.

I have a dear friend who chooses to feed her family mostly home grown produce and organic treats. She steers the kids away from high fructose corn syrup and makes an effort to provide nutritional snacks for the kids.

She does not, however, forbid her children from ever having candy. Instead she focuses on communicating with the kids after they eat sweets. She asks them to describe how they feel after devouring that fistful of Peeps. Because, of course, we all feel like ass after overindulging in sweets. We just try to ignore it.

I think this is a great approach!

A recent study from the University Of Louisiana actually indicates that children who are given sweets on a fairly regular basis are 22% less likely to become overweight or obese.

I'm obese. I've gone up and down my entire life. Right now, I'm up. What metabolically endowed folks don't seem to understand, however, is that we fat folks are very attuned to our children's health. Many of us are working to keep our children active (in fact teach them to enjoy exercise). We also do a lot of reading on the subject and consult with our pediatricians.

We understand, more intimately than many, the psychology of fat.

  • Teach your child to love an active lifestyle; 
  • Don't forbid sweets; 
  • Help them understand from an early age what good nutrition can mean for them throughout their lives. 
Or, you know, just ban ice cream trucks. That'll take care of the problem. -Kim



http://nobetterforum.blogspot.com/2012/04/obesity-boogeyman.html

March 29, 2012

The Conservative Challenge



I want to debate a conservative blogger on sociopolitical topics.

"Debate," to me, means to discuss in a calm and rational manner. Frankly our current political climate frightens me. We've fallen into the habit of shouting our opinions into the wind, metaphorically, through social media outlets. Politicians and pundits can't seem to refrain from name-calling, exaggeration, and fear-mongering.

My opponent must enjoy this sort of thing. If you feel stressed out just thinking about discussing politics then this challenge probably isn't for you. If we can develop an amicable relationship the conversation may go on indefinitely.

My positions:

  1. Abortion. I've posted on this already, I probably agree with you for the most part.
  2. Gay marriage / adoption. I'm bisexual. Bring it on.
  3. Gun control. This would be fun. I'm liberal but married to an outdoorsman / hunter / fisherman. I'd love to debate this.
  4. "Obamacare." Very much pro-Obamacare.
  5. Separation of church and state. I think some of the statements being made by the right, such as Bryan Fischer's assertion that Islam should not be granted First Amendment rights, have no basis in fact.
These are just a few, I'm open to ideas!

Here are my rules for debate:

  1. Respect the humanity of the person you are debating. Neither side is inherently evil or out to destroy the fabric of society.
  2. No name-calling. Be nice.
  3. Avoid inflammatory verbiage. Example: "Conservatives will never be willing to protect women's rights." The words Never and Always are especially inflammatory.
  4. Be willing to concede points. Nobody is right about everything.
  5. Smile. It's just a conversation.
If you know a conservative blogger please send them this link. If you are a conservative blogger just dive right in! Post something then comment below with a link to it. I wouldn't mind debating several people, so don't be bashful.

You could also respond to one of my controversial posts:

The Homosexual Agenda

Abortion, Part II

The Trouble With Gender

Sarah Palin: Betrayal of Nowhere

Let's show the world that even hot-button topics can be discussed calmly and productively.    -Kim


March 28, 2012

Bullies, Born or Bred?



I tried to commit suicide at age 13 as the result of bullying.

Needless to say I've been following the recent media focus on bullies quite closely. The It Gets Better Project is wonderful but we need to be aware of bullying as an issue for non-LGBT youth as well (I am bisexual but that wasn't the source of my problems).


The message of the It Gets Better Project is critical. The reason kids are committing suicide is because all they can see is TODAY. They are incapable of understanding the big picture, and just how temporary school is in the grand scheme of things.

What creates a bully? Why do they feel compelled to make other people feel worthless? I don't know.

The girl who shoved me off the brink was my "best friend." I knew her for many years. She came from a perfectly normal family. Maybe they weren't as involved in her life as they should have been, but I certainly never saw evidence of any type of abuse.

Yet, over time, this child became increasingly cruel. She was obsessed with popularity. Her chubby, intelligent, fashion-backward best friend blocked the path so she found a way around. She made fun of me with her "popular" friends, played tricks on me, berated me in private, and even physically assaulted me on several occasions.

This happened gradually, of course. My best friend and confidant didn't become my worst nightmare overnight. As her focus on popularity grew so did her contempt for me.

Middle school is a bitch, ain't it? I don't think there is a person alive who recalls seventh grade with fondness. Middle school is like purgatory for adolescents.

POOF! You have breasts!

POOF! You have pimples!

POOF! You're almost to high school, and those kids drive cars, man, so if you aren't cool enough they're gonna eat you alive!

Certainly it was where my situation reached critical mass.



Tyler Long committed suicide in 2009. Ellen DeGeneres interviewed his parents, who are featured in the movie Bully. While it is obvious that Ellen cares, it's also obvious that she has no idea what to say. I love Ellen. I'm not picking on Ellen. But what needed to be said was this:
  • Parents alone can't do it. 
  • Teachers alone can't do it. 
  • EVERY adult in a child's life needs to be aware of bullying and work to put an end to it.
It bothered me how much emphasis Ellen put on the bullies themselves. She implied that they should feel guilt over what they said. Of course they feel guilt! They were kids at the time. What kind of stupid shit did you do when you were a kid? Do you feel guilty? At least it didn't cause someone to end their life.

Ellen also said that children "don't just do" something like that (bullying), they have to be taught. I disagree. Kids are assholes*. They must be taught kindness.

My advice to concerned parents is to teach your children empathy from a young age. Don't assume your sweet little angel will never be a bully, they will. The pack mentality of children will almost always incite them to pick on the weaker members.

You must also teach them strength. If I had rolled my eyes and said "Whatever!" the first time my friend tried to make me feel bad about myself I would have been better off. If I had sought friends who built me up instead of tearing me down I would have had a happier childhood.
  • Parents alone can't do it. 
  • Teachers alone can't do it. 
  • EVERY adult in a child's life needs to be aware of bullying and work to put an end to it.
Please make a difference to the children in your life. Start by seeing the movie Bully, in theaters March 30th.     -Kim


*I want to elaborate on the statement "kids are assholes." My 3.5 year old daughter has a weekly play date with two boys of the same age, Charlie and Marco. Charlie and Marco play nicely together, Bethany and Charlie play nicely together, but when the three of them play they ALWAYS leave Marco out. Marco often ends up on his mom's lap with a sad face.

Charlie's mom and I work with our kids in private to help them understand what they are doing to Marco. I ask Bethany "How many friends are you playing with today?"

"Two."

"What are their names?"

"Charlie and Marco."

"Are you playing with Marco, or just Charlie?"

"We're all playing!"

"That's not what I'm seeing, sweetheart. I see you and Charlie playing without Marco. Do you know what Marco said? He said you and Charlie are his best friends. Do you think you're being a good best friend?"

"Yes."

"How would it make you feel if Charlie and Marco played together and never played with you."

"It would make me feel sad."

"How do you suppose Marco feels when you and Charlie play without him all the time?"

"Sad."

"I think you're right. What do you think you could do to make him feel better?"

"I can give him a hug!"

"That's a great idea. Then maybe you can ask him to play with you."

Children must be taught kindness and empathy. It doesn't come naturally to most of them.

March 25, 2012

Agape Sunday: Homosexual Agenda



Noun: Christian Love

On Sundays I try to bridge the gap between the left and the religious right.

We cannot ask our opponents to listen to our point of view if we are unwilling to listen to theirs. Our nation will never find peace if we don't learn to communicate.

The media darling for the religious right is American Family Association, parent group of One Million Moms.

We've all heard the phrase "homosexual agenda." Many Christian conservatives use this to describe what they believe LGBT people wish to achieve. Most liberals aren't entirely certain what it means, but it sends our hackles up nonetheless.



AFA spelled out exactly what they fear will happen if homosexuals accomplish their agenda in this article: Click Here.

Liberals: set your indignation aside and read it.

  • If you believe they are wrong, why are they wrong? 
  • Could you rewrite this article and make the same points without using inflammatory verbiage? 
  • Do they have any valid points from which you could launch a productive discussion?
Example: "It would be very difficult to conceive of any 'organized effort' seeking to attain an end that does not have an agenda."

True statement. Maybe we should stop getting angry at the term itself. LGBT persons DO have an agenda.

Conservative Christians: set your own beliefs aside and read it.

  • Do agree with the article 100%? Why or why not? 
  • Are you comfortable with AFA essentially representing you in the media? 
  • Can you find any concession points from which you could launch a productive discussion with a homosexual person?
Example: "The critical first step towards this end occurred in 1973, when gay activists succeeded in forcing the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders." 

This quote cites no reference and is written in an inflammatory manner. Would it be fair to rewrite the segment about the APA as follows:

"The critical first step towards this end occurred in 1973 with a controversial decision by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders."

(Extra credit for both sides: What goals do you believe are on the homosexual agenda? Why?)

If this post made you think, please take a moment to post to Facebook or email to a friend. I look forward to reading your comments below.      -Kim

March 23, 2012

Strange Things. Scary Things.



A while back I posted about abortion. I was voicing support, from a liberal perspective, for the proposed requirement for women seeking abortions to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound prior to the procedure. In the comments beneath that post one reader told me:
"You give them an inch and they will take a mile. Starting down the personhood path will lead to things you don't like but it will be too late to turn back the clock."
I'll be honest. At the time I thought the comment was a bit alarmist. It turned out to be some kind of crazy accurate prediction.


Since I wrote that post the following news items have surfaced:

  • An Arizona lawmaker suggested women be required to watch an abortion prior to receiving one.
  • An Alaska lawmaker suggested the father be required to give permission for an abortion.
  • An Idaho lawmaker suggested that physicians probe more deeply when a woman comes in with a "rape issue" (pregnancy resulting from rape) to determine if she's telling the truth or if the pregnancy is actually the result of normal marital relations.
  • The Arizona Senate passed a bill protecting physicians who choose not to disclose fetal medical conditions which may cause the pregnant woman to consider an abortion. 
AZ Rep. Terri Proud
NO!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!

When I wrote my post I stupidly assumed that we were talking about legislation written with sensitivity and forethought. I assumed women who were pregnant from non-consensual sex would not be part of the bargain.

I stand by my original post, but I would rather 10,000 unnecessary abortions be performed than watch our rights and our dignity be stripped away.

Conservative women, I implore you - we are looking at more of the same under a Romney or Santorum administration. Please consider your gender when heading to the polls. I'm not even suggesting you change sides, but find a more reasonable candidate! I know you are angry and feel the Democratic White House has caused more harm than good, but if you over correct and elect someone who does not support basic civil liberties we may be thrown back into the last century.     -Kim

March 20, 2012

Letters to Target



While looking at Target's Facebook fan page I discovered a treasure trove of delight! I think I'll make Target's fan page part of my daily online routine. And add "Target customer service representative" to the list of jobs I'll never, ever apply for.

Ahem...

Target you are one fail use of a company, how can you fire one of my good friends for something that happened in 2009 when it's 2012? I hope your company burns. -Colt Royster
This is absolutely DISGUSTING, If this is true!! I am a loyal customer of Target for both Grocery and personal items. I shop at your store at least 2-3 a week. If this does not change soon I will be forced to take my grocery shopping somewhere they do NOT sell beef with Pink Slime!!!!!!!! -Jamie
(Target's response to the "pink slime," FYI: "Target is committed to providing high quality and safe products to our guests. We place great emphasis on sourcing food and products from industry leaders for safety and quality. Our ground beef vendors do not use an ammonium hydroxide treatment in their production processes.")

ARE WE IN AMERICA????? YOUR COMMERCIALS ARE AN INSULT TO ME....I UNDERSTAND THE WORDS ONLY BECAUSE MY FATHER SPEAKS FLUENT FRENCH!!! THIS IS AMERICA AND IF YOU BROADCAST ON OUR TV SERVICE OUR COMMERCIALS AND EVERYTHING ELSE NEED TO BE IN ENGLISH!! I CHOOSE NOT TO BUY ANYTHING FROM YOUR STORES AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT ADVERTISE IN OUR ENGLISH LANGUAGE.....WHAT ARE YOU THINKING???? -Renee
 If you are going to become more successful, you have to get out of denial and face what isn’t working in your life. Is your marriage failing? Sales on a 3 month downward trend? Are you in denial about your lack of energy and excess weight? Successful people face these circumstances squarely, heed the warning signs, and take appropriate action, no matter how uncomfortable or challenging it might be. -Jack Canfield
WELL BACK FROM Target WIT NESSA HAD FUNN WENT 2 marshals & GOT THISS CUTEE HOLISTER SHIRT :D BUT ME & NESSA WANA NOO SOMEN. . . . !!
LM$ WHO LIVE BY CENTRAL PARK THO. . . . ??
#R.I.P LISHAA ♥ 
-Andrenika
My personal favorite:
How does Target honor celebrate God--Jesus at this time of year? What about fans of end-time prophecy. Does Target cater to this new phenom.? What about the new Messianic Judaism, Jewish people who celebrate Jesus--Yeshua, His death & Resurrection with Passover, how is this handled? Bible prophecy after the great war at Har Megiddo where God Yeshua ha Mashiach Jesus Christ in english helps Israel by destroying all the nations that come against her to surround her in that valley at the north of Israel and the south of Syria ezekiel 38, Matthew 24, Revelations, Zachariah 12-14. Her enemies will be the sons of sheth, moab edom, the arab nations with meshach rosh and tubal, russia, asian confederacy, a 200 million man army, but God defends her, they come after the temple is built and the false messiah / worship system of the beast stands in it, the beast is Europes symbol, the antichrist comes from the reunified roman empire he stands in the temple and commands worship, the jewish people realize it and tear their robes, the temple is destroyed, the war starts. Then destruction comes from heaven. Confess Jesus today all Israel will it is written Yeshua Ha Mashiach Ben Adonai comes, Maranatha, blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord Hosanna. Baruch haba ata B' Shem Adonai. Olam haba aharitha yamin. End of days prophecy. A great blessing and revelation of Jesus today. It brought such peace, strength victory against the attacks of satan. It silenced the roar of the lion. Just Jesus. He is our Savior, He is the Word of God, He is the Way, the truth and the life. The Word of God "discloses" Jesus to us, God desires "truth in the inward parts." The Bible alone is truth, Jesus is truth. God hates signs and wonders, He is the true sign and wonder, as it is written. 2010 years ago people were commanded to look for the sign of a baby lying in a manger with His mother and "behold a virgin shall be with child." Here is your sign. Then the sign of the son of man is like Jonah in the belly of the whale--speaking of His death and resurrection, "3 days and 3 nights He shall be in the belly of the earth". But He shall rise again. Here is our sign. For our generation we are to look for a sign in the heavens, the sign of the coming of the son of man. Jesus on the clouds of heaven coming with great glory and might (Matthew 24). This is the true sign and wonder, not the lying sign and wonders gospels out there. If it is not Jesus in the flesh or as the Word of God, it is a lying false sign and wonder. It has no power only the gospel of Jesus Christ has power. it s "the power of God to save." What is more important than salvation? "Is there anything too hard for the Lord." "Many shall come out of great tribulation."The Bible "discloses" Jesus to us, the gospel of His death and resurrection, this is all we need, "we must be born again." No other gospel can exist, no other work can compare to the work of God through Jesus Christ. "All our righteousness (works) are as filthy rags." We don't have to do anything-- Christ did it all, paid the full penalty for our sins on the cross and "sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high." "It is finished." So live! we are free in Christ Jesus. "If Christ has set you free you are free indeed." Anything plus the gospel is a lie. The ultimate test of any sign or wonder or claim to doctrinal truth is, is it Jesus in the flesh, our sign to watch for in this generation "look up your redemption draws nigh." Or is it the Full Word of God "behold in the volume of the book is it written of me to do Thy will." "cast out the bond servant." Prepare for the marriage supper of the Lamb that was slain. "Behold I come and My reward is with Me." --The Bible alone is Spirit and life, Jesus is the Spirit of God, He alone is Almighty God, Jehovah, in the flesh. No other sign or wonder can live up to these two witnesses the Word of God and Jesus Himself. "Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses a thing is established." It is time for the church to repent the day of the Lord draweth nigh." "righteous and true are Thy judgements Oh Lord." Prepare to see the Earth reaped and the dead stand by the Spirit of God--Jesus. There is no other sign. Jesus is the "glory of God". "Every eye shall see, every tongue shall confess Jesus is Lord." Hallelujah. "The knowledge of Christ shall cover the Earth as the waters cover the sea." "Great is Thy faithfulness Oh Lord my God." He cometh to judge the quick and the dead." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your house shall be saved." It is easy "only believe." Our Master and God's requirement for life eternal. We do not have to wear ourselves out doing any work, physical or spiritual. We can "enter His rest" Just Live, "just do it."
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 Jesus is LORD AND GOD YESHUA HA MASHIACH BEN ADONAI CKNU KADOSH KADOSH. I hope Target Corporation learns from this message and it fans. God Bless you all, Amen. 
- Saul
Me too, Saul. Me too.

March 18, 2012

Exclusive Recipe: Twenty Bunny Pie



As promised - the first in No Better Forum's exclusive guest posts with original recipes by Chef James Morgan (see biography at the end of this post). Enjoy! I know I will.

-Kim

Twenty Bunny Pie
Chef James Morgan

This delightful dessert consists of a graham cracker crust topped with layers of chocolate, caramel, bananas and whipped cream. The pie is surrounded with 20 colorful Marshmallow Peeps® bunnies.

Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cool Time: 45 Minutes

Complete Ingredient Listing:
  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tsps corn syrup
  • 1 Jar Smucker's® Hot Caramel Ice Cream Topping
  • 2-3 bananas
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 10 oz Cool Whip®
  • 20 Marshmallow Peeps® Bunnies
**********************************************


www.FlirtyAprons.com


Graham Cracker Crust Layer

1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Mix the ingredients in a bowl.
3. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 10” springform pan.
4. Bake for 15 min.
5. Let cool completely to room temperature

Chocolate Layer

This layer is a chocolate "ganache."

Before beginning this process, separate 20 Marshmallow Peeps Bunnies of various colors and have them ready.

8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 tsps corn syrup
3 Tbsp butter
  1. Place all ingredients into microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Place into microwave oven. 
  3. Microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  5. Microwave 30 more seconds. 
  6. Stir again.
  7. Continue until the ganache has a smooth, uniform consistency. Heat it only just enough to melt the chocolate. Do not overheat it or it may separate.
  8. Pour ganache onto cooled crust in pan.
  9. Swirl gently to distribute it evenly.
  10. Allow the chocolate to cool for a few minutes.
  11. Place the Peeps bunnies around the inside of the pan, with their eyes facing out.
  12. Place pan into refrigerator to cool and set.
Chocolate layer with bunnies arranged
Caramel Layer

This one is easy. Spread a layer of Smucker's Toppings Hot Caramel Sauce (don’t heat it) over the top of the cooled chocolate layer. (This product is available in the ice cream toppings section at your grocery.)

Banana Layer
  1. Slice about 2 or 3 bananas, about 1/4” thick.
  2. Distribute slices evenly over the caramel layer.
After addition of caramel and bananas
Whipped Topping
  1. Spread about 10 oz of Cool Whip over the pie. (I use Cool Whip in this because it is more stable than whipped cream, and easier to use.)
  2. Dust with cocoa powder.
  3. Carefully unsnap the ring and lift it from the pie.
Now watch it disappear!

Biography

Chef James Morgan is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy. He has appeared on the TV programs Bobby Flay’s Food Nation, MasterChef USA, and Taste of Louisiana.

Chef Morgan has served as chef at several restaurants, including: The Pointe Tapatio, Phoenix, Arizona; White Oak Plantation, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and LaFitte’s Landing, Donaldsonville, Louisiana.

He is the author of the textbook Culinary Creation: An Introduction to Foodservice and World Cuisine, available at Amazon.com. Spanish version also available.

March 16, 2012

Sarah Palin: Betrayal of Nowhere

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Beautiful, isn't she?

Sarah Palin looks like someone I'd like to have a couple of beers with. Down-to-Earth. Friendly.

I lived in Ketchikan, Alaska, from 1999 - 2009. I was there when she ran for governor, and I wanted to vote for her. As a feminist I loved her. Outspoken. Powerful. Yet, still relatable.

I couldn't vote for her, of course. She didn't stand for anything I held dear. But privately I was pulling for her. I wanted to see her succeed.

She understood Alaskans. She held town hall meetings throughout the state during her gubernatorial campaign. No small feat when you keep in mind that Alaska is huge, and its population is spread amongst countless tiny hamlets, many of which are inaccessible by road.

Southeast Alaska faces obstacles and misunderstanding at every turn by the rest of the nation. Some examples:

  • Jobs depend on the declining timber industry and fisheries that face tougher regulations every year. The Lower 48 seems to think it's some sort of free-for-all.
  • Bozos like Greenpeace come charging in when the weather is nice (Ketchikan gets roughly 160 inches of rain per year) and pass out flyers to locals telling them how things ought to be.
  • My husband and I hunted in unimaginably remote areas. We saw declining deer populations due to wolf overpopulation. It seemed we found fresh carcasses everywhere we went. The wolves (at the time, at least) were severely throwing the ecosystem off balance. (Remember the wolf control controversy?)
Ms. Palin seemed to understand all that. She was poised to become our defender and our advocate.

Now let's talk about The Bridge. You know the one. The Bridge to Nowhere.

Does the media ever get a story entirely right? No. Especially in situations like this where they can't possibly have all the information.

I'm not going to get it right, either, but I was there and I'd like to flesh out the bits I know to be true. The Bridge to Nowhere became such a media circus and an apparently flagrant example of pork barrel spending that Sarah Palin's utter Judas moment was lost in the shuffle.

That's why I want to write this article. Ms. Palin has become a much larger player and this story deserves to be told. I'm not out to get her. To be honest with you I never gave two craps about the bridge, personally. As a regular citizen it had little impact on my life. But I know people who did give a crap, and who had a lot invested in the outcome of the thing. Good people.


It's all there, if you look. Unfortunately nobody is looking anymore.


Let's start with some basic information about Ketchikan:
  • With a population of approximately 13,000 residents, Ketchikan is the 5th largest city in Alaska.
  • At the time of the bridge fiasco Ketchikan was headquarters to at least two major Alaskan businesses: First Bank and Northern Sales Company of Alaska. Many other businesses call Ketchikan home. The largest hospital in the area, Ketchikan General Hospital, provides critical Medivac service to many surrounding communities which are inaccessible by road. The Alaska State Troopers provide police support to the same communities. A sizable branch of the University of Alaska is located in Ketchikan.
  • Ketchikan itself is inaccessible by road. The only ways to arrive are via airplane or boat. Not a quick boat trip, either, but a multi-day ferry with beds and restaurants. Imagine the obstacles local businesses face bringing in product and distributing it to their customers on surrounding islands.
  • Ketchikan is located in the midst of the Tongass National Forest (a subtropical rainforest). Understandably there are countless restrictions to building on National Forest property so local businesses also face the odd problem of space restrictions on such a huge island.
  • Ketchikan's airport (the second largest in Southeast Alaska) is located across a narrow channel on Gravina Island. To get there you must cross the channel, in the rain, hauling your luggage up and down steep ramps. Locals don't mind, they're used to it. The bridge was never about getting locals more conveniently from point A to point B.
In 2007 Ketchikan saw 1,714,000 visitors (tourists). One million, seven hundred fourteen thousand tourists. Guess what Ketchikan's primary industry is?

Of these, 46% arrived by air. 49% arrived by cruise ship. I worked one block from the cruise ship dock for nine years, so I can tell you firsthand that this is an obscene number of people. Have you ever been close to a cruise ship? One of those mega liners? We were easily seeing four of those per day in the summer, sometimes up to six.

The above statistic means that nearly the same number were arriving by air. Do you know who those folks were? Sport fishermen, the rich guys on a summer getaway to their favorite lodge. Do you suppose those fellows are excited about lugging their equipment up and down steep ramps in the rain? Nope. Sort of bad for business, isn't it?

Nobody mentions that when they talk about the bridge to "Nowhere." Nor do they mention the fact that it had to be built so high because the cruise ships / commercial fishing boats / giant yachts had to pass beneath it.

Still, that wasn't part of Ms. Palin's betrayal. She blatantly betrayed the local business people who counted on her promise to build the bridge so they could have room to expand.

Quoted directly from Wikipedia:
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In September 2006, during her campaign for Governor, Sarah Palin visited Ketchikan to express her support for the Gravina Island Bridge project. At a public forum, Palin held up a pro-bridge t-shirt designed by a Ketchikan artist, Mary Ida Henrikson. The legend on the shirt was "Nowhere Alaska 99901," referencing the buzzword of "Bridge to Nowhere" and the primary zip code of Ketchikan. In her public comments, referring to her own residence in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, she said: "OK, you’ve got Valley trash standing here in the middle of nowhere. I think we’re going to make a good team as we progress that bridge project" in response to an insult expressed by the state Senate president, Ben Stevens.
In October 2006, when asked, "Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?" she answered: "Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now – while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." Later that month, at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Wasilla, Alaska, Democratic candidate Tony Knowles criticized Palin for supporting the Knik Arm Bridge, the Gravina Island Bridge, and a road north out of Juneau instead of rebuilding the Parks Highway. The Ketchikan Daily News noted that, of the gubernatorial candidates, "Only Palin is consistent in support all of the projects."

~Time passed and she decided to sell us out to further her career.~

Quoted from the same Wikipedia article:

On August 29, 2008, when introduced as Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, Governor Palin told the crowd: "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere" — a line that garnered big applause but upset political leaders in Ketchikan. Palin's campaign coordinator in the city, Republican Mike Elerding, remarked, "She said 'thanks but no thanks,' but they kept the money." Ketchikan's Democratic Mayor Bob Weinstein also criticized Palin for using the term bridge to nowhere, which she had said was insulting when she was in favor of the bridge.
Although Palin was originally a main proponent of the bridge, McCain–Palin television advertisements claimed that Palin "stopped the Bridge to Nowhere." These claims have been widely questioned or described as misleading in several newspapers across the political spectrum. Howard Kurtz called this a "whopper," writing: "She endorsed the remote project while running for governor in 2006, claimed to be an opponent only after Congress killed its funding the next year and has used the $223 million provided for it for other state ventures." Newsweek, commenting on Palin's "astonishing pivot," remarked: "Now she talks as if she always opposed the funding."
...
While discussing the Gravina Island Bridge during an ABC News interview that aired on September 12, 2008, Charles Gibson made the following comment: "but it's now pretty clearly documented. You supported that bridge before you opposed it. You were wearing a t-shirt in the 2006 campaign, showed your support for the bridge to nowhere." Palin interrupted Gibson and insisted, "I was wearing a t-shirt with the zip code of the community that was asking for that bridge. Not all the people in that community even were asking for a $400 million or $300 million bridge."
Many media groups in the U.S. noted that Palin changed her position regarding the bridges, and concluded that she exaggerated her claim that she stopped the proposals from going through. According to the Los Angeles Times, for instance, while seeking votes for her governorship race, Palin told Ketchikan residents that she backed the "bridge to nowhere"; as governor, she spent the money elsewhere and moved ahead with a $26-million road to the nonexistent bridge. (emphasis mine)
After canceling the bridge, Palin's administration spent more than $25 million to build the Gravina Island Highway, which would have connected with the proposed bridge. According to Alaskan state officials, the road project went ahead because the money came from the federal government, and would otherwise have had to be returned. Because "no one seems to use" this road, it has been called the "road to nowhere" by CNN, many local Alaskans, and hundreds of other media sources.
CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau took a helicopter over the road. "There's no one on this road," she said. "It kind of just curves around then it just stops. That's where the bridge was supposed to pick up." Boudreau spoke to Mike Elerding, Palin's former campaign coordinator. When asked if he felt the road was "a waste of taxpayer money," he responded, "Without the bridge, yeah."
My question to you, Palin supporters, is simple: What has the "Valley Trash" promised you, and how much do you think it would take for her to sell you out, too?     -Kim

March 13, 2012

My Meandering Financial Advice



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Our family got hit by the bad economy. Hard. It didn't help that we made a major move and had two children right in the midst of it.

At one point we consulted a bankruptcy attorney. When he spoke to me about liquidating our assets I became determined to find another way to survive. Although I'm in no way materialistic I think I would sink into a deep depression without my wedding ring. Unfortunately it is quite valuable (I wouldn't care if it was tin and cubic zirconia). After 30+ years of being single - then finding the perfect Yin to my Yang - I just can't bear the thought of being without it.


I lost it once. I knew my daughter was involved. She's three. I grilled her mercilessly. I promised her the world in exchange for my ring back. I dug through weeks of disgusting garbage, piece by piece, in case it wound up in there somehow.

Weeks later she was playing near my husband's pool trophies (he's quite good). Bethany said, casually, "Mommy, the man has a crown! Look at his crown!"


I've never in my life felt relief like I did at that moment, when I turned around and saw this. The ring hasn't left my finger since.

None of this is the point.

I was a bank officer for many years. I've got a vague idea about finance. If you want real advice visit The Motley Fool. They are WAY smarter than me. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I'd like to share some simple tips I've learned by trial and error. I sincerely hope they help you.

1. Write down your (reliable) monthly income. Write down your (recurring) monthly expenses. Compare.

I recommend using Mint.com (free!), but the basics are here:

Income:

Sally - $1,900
Bob - $1,200

Expenses:

Rent - $1,200
SUV - $530
Van - $250
Vehicle insurance - $310
Cable - $115
Cell (Family) - $136
Electric - $60
DSL - $75
Water - $65
Credit Cards - $250

You have $109 per month expendable income. No wonder you aren't making it! Groceries, fuel, entertainment, clothing... this all comes out of a small pittance of excess income each month. Credit card debt piling up? Of course it is.

2. You don't need a car payment.

YOU DO NOT NEED A CAR PAYMENT. Sell your newfangled rigs for a couple of older, well-maintained, fuel efficient, ugly mofos. Fuel is only going up in price. Craigslist is a beautiful thing. If you can buy something fuel efficent outright - POOF! No car payment. Car Talk suggests that it costs less to repair a car than it does to buy a new one. BONUS - less $ to insure.

3. Is the plan too complex for your needs?

Cable. Cell phone. DSL. Are you actually using all the features you are paying for? Can you afford them? Is there another provider offering the same service cheaper? Review your plans and determine if you can downgrade or cancel completely. 

4. 401(k)

Are you fortunate enough to have an employer who offers a 401(k) plan? Think you can't afford it? Does your employer match contributions? If you aren't contributing the maximum matched amount you are throwing away free money.
  • 401(k) loans - There is never a good reason to do this. Please believe me. We are currently paying hundreds of dollars per month on a loan we took out to remodel a house we no longer own. We never expected to be so broke. Who does? Of course the money is being paid to ourselves, but that's a small consolation when we can't afford, well, anything.

This is a serious insider secret. Listen closely to the following conversation:

Brand X: "Hello, I represent Brand X toothpaste. We're very interested in doing business with you."

Walmart Buyer: "Cool! We love Brand X! Here's my proposal: sell us your product, but package half of it in a tube that says 'Equate Toothpaste' and charge us half the price."

Brand X: "But, but... how will we sell our product? We can't afford to do that!"

Walmart Buyer: /click/

Terrible, unethical, evil... cheap. Try it. You may be surprised. It's literally the same stuff.

6. Do your own taxes.

Don't be scared. There's software that makes it super simple. I had to take mine in to have done professionally last year and was SHOCKED at the cost.


This is the program I've been using myself for years. They save your information from year to year, making it painless to import the mundane details. You can usually even pull your W-4 data without having to enter it manually.

7. Take control of your investments.

Can't afford to invest? Yes, you can.

Every time we get paid I transfer $25 to a peer-to-peer lending site. The premise is that borrowers apply for loans and private investors fund them. Because there is less overhead the rates are better for borrowers and the return is significant for investors.


If you spread your investment out over multiple loans you decrease your loss in the (inevitable) event that the borrower defaults. Any investment involves risk, make sure to minimize yours by putting your eggs in as many baskets as possible.

Don't understand stocks? Neither do I. Build a balanced portfolio (risk vs. stability) on a peer-to-peer lending site and see returns comparable to stocks.

DO NOT PAY A FINANCIAL ADVISER. Understand and control your own investments. If you understand the stock market, there are several online venues to simplify that type of investment.

There are also several online venues for peer-to-peer lending. The largest is Prosper.com. They've been operating since 2006.

Check out Prosper Marketplace here.

8. Pay off your credit cards.

You are losing your ass on them. Pay more than the minimum payment and stop using them.

9. Equity, schmequity.

If you're in dire straits, it makes more financial sense to rent a living space from a reputable landlord than to own a home. The landlord is responsible for maintenance and renter's insurance is much cheaper than homeowner's insurance.

10. Check your credit report annually.

You don't have to go through a service with cutesy ads. The credit monitoring services are required by law to give you a free annual report: Equifax, TransUnion, Experian. No sense in working hard to repair your credit only to have an error mar your good name for years.     
-Kim